Updated: May 14
The issue of “Begging” is one of the age old issues that are still prevalent in the societies.Some people are involved in such activity voluntarily and for some there is no other option than to get involved in this.It has a lot to do with one’s country’s socio economic condition such as over population,poverty,no job opportunities and inadequate policies that are made.
This article focuses on the laws and their implementation in various countries across the world and tries to find out what are the reasons why people get involved in begging.Also,this article throws light upon the solutions which can be proved best to curb this problem.Apart from that it also examines the condition of beggars in the society at large.
In many cases,it can be observed that whole of the family is involved in begging,beggars marry and their children also contributes in collecting the money by begging.These people never go to school for receiving any education and many times it can also be seen that they not even what to study because they consider it as a wastage of there time.Also many government schools are there which provide for “free education” but the problem with it is that “no teachers” are coming there to teach.The reasons to this can be “improper implementation of policies” made by Government.
So, this article will try to find out the answers to the questions such as “Who are the persons which are involved in begging.What could be the initiatives that a government must take in order to reduce begging and what are basically the after effects and impacts of begging.”
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
To know the conditions of the people involved in begging.
To enhance the knowledge on “what are the impacts and consequences” of begging.
To find the solutions as to what should be done to curb this “social issue”.
To draw the thin line between legal and illegal status of beggary in various countries across the world.
Begging is an act which is performed by any person or any group of persons such as imploring others for a favour like a gift or money,having no means of sustenance and enough money to earn there living.This is something which is done often willingly but sometimes people are in a compulsion to perform such acts out of there nasty situation.
It can also be said that begging is like a shameful experience for many of the people and begging on the roads means to hide “those feelings”.
As per the definition in the Black’s law dictionary: “ Beggar is one who lives by begging charity,or who has no other means of support than solicited”.
Beggary is like a curse to any country but in addition to it if such situations prevail in the “developing countries” then it is a “financial burden” of the country which is much more than curse.As a rule,beggars are lloked upon as “physically handicapped” and “morally corrupt” people.But this not always holds true.There are people who are forced into this.
The problem of begging is very common now a days,the situation is such that the people are supposed to do it even after being educated.There had been several instances where the beggars who are begging are well qualified.These are the circumstances only which force someone to get into this,no matter whether it is done voluntarily or out of compulsion.
There are situations in which people are doing businesses involving begging.They use to abduct or kidnap persons or children respectively,make them handicapped or make them in such a situation that they are barely left with anything.These people are left on streets or public places and are supposed to ask for money from the passers by and collect them and make the amount deposit to that person who is the head of the business.
One can observe it generally that one of the main reasons of increase in the begging,is the increase in homelessness of the people.Addiction problems too contribute a lot to this problem of begging.Apart from that “being poor” and being in “ social isolation” are of the primary issues which can compel any person to beg.
One can view the scenario of begging on the streets,which consists of “ active informal citizens” and other people of the nationality as well.
There are different countries which are having “Anti begging laws” in order to safeguard those persons who are getting exploited by others.This is something illegal,and unjust from whom such unfair advantage is being taken upon.
Begging is something which one can relate with the sense of getting frustrated and helpless and it is somewhat an emotive issue.There have been a large no. of reasons which are responsible for a great increase in the aspect of begging including the areas which have expanded where people beg.So,this article also try to find out those reasons which are responsible for the stated situation.
SITUATION WITH RESPECT TO INDIA:
If we see the situation in India,it is more worse than expected.There is no central law of begging in India which penalises begging.The states have there own Anti begging laws but there is no such provision or statute which acts as “grundnorm” for such begging Activities.But what act as a head figure for all the states is “Bombay Prevention of Begging Act,1959”.
It is pertinent to note that any money or food which is received by others and is authorised by any statute or law is not involved in the ambit of “begging”.
What is the most common phenomena in India,is that there is lack of implementation in every law.Even though the laws are effective but still there lack of implementation in laws in a proper way which serves as a major drawback of the laws in India.Same is the situation with the “Anti-Begging” laws related to “Beggary” in India.Firstly,the laws related to beggary reflects high arbitrariness and if we talk about implementation then one would wonder what is the use of making such laws which have almost “negligible implementation”.
One of the scenario,that can be usually observed is that the police officials use to raid and arrest homeless people in public places such as temples,mosques,bus stations and railway stations and arrest the people who are not even involved in the process of begging.What police officials do is they usually arrest those people who are homeless or disable or who might appear to them as beggars.This shows how cruel are the officials to the general public.This raises again one important question :Is this not the abuse of power that the police is doing such acts?In this way,how can one assume that the authorities are fulfilling there responsibilities in a fair manner.
What is written in laws is something contrary to what happens in reality.
What are the powers that are given to police regarding arrest of persons found begging:
If we talk of the laws related to beggary in India,then it can be seen that the police authorities can arrest any person without warrant if that person is involved in “begging”.After the person found begging is arrested then there arises the duty of police officer to send that person to Court nad if then the Court finds that the person arrested is not really a beggar or involved in any of the begging activities then in that case the person is to be released but on the contrary if the Court is of the opinion that the person arrested was really involved in the process of begging then the Court shall make that person convicted for a period for 1 year extending to 3 years.
SITUATION WITH RESPECT TO DENMARK:
If we talk of the country like Denmark,then it can be observed that the country had enacted even more harsher laws as compared to other countries.If a person is found begging outside in public places or on streets then that person is to be immediately arrested and is detained in prison for about 2 weeks.Such a punishment is imposed if the person has committed the offence for the first time.But if in case the person has committed the offence for the second time then in that case,the offender has to go through more harsher punishment.So, it can be said that Denmark has adopted a very rigorous approach to lessen begging.
But if the law is having a positive side then how can we forget the negative side of the law that enacted.Yes, the consequences of this law are even more worse.If a person get imprisoned for such offence then soon it is possible for them to get out from the prison,and they again go on streets and beg.How is this law serving its aims and objectives is a big question that arises in the minds of people.
Most of the people are unhappy with this law due to the reason that it reflects in it the discrimination.Most of the police officers arrest those people who are foreign nationals.As those people do not have any place to live and are homeless,they usually live on the streets.But,again the police does not fulfil its duties and do not find any difference between those people who beg and those who are homeless.This shows a loophole in the administration process of police authorities.
SITUATION WITH RESPECT TO USA:
As contrasted with the laws of India related to Begging,in US also it varies from region to region.Some areas in US has restricted begging completely howsoever there are some areas which restrict only the certain type of begging.One can observe that laws in US are much less oppressive.But the problem there is that although begging is not that illegal there still but it is very hard to find an area to beg.In both India and USA,putting a ban on beggin is the clear cut violation of “freedom of speech and expression” which is our one of the most basic human rights.
SCENARIO WITH RESPECT TO IRELAND:
One will be surprised to know theat laws regarding Begging are much more different than that of other countries.If we consider the laws of Ireland,one may observe that the laws regarding begging are legal over there.If we throw some light on the past scenario of such laws over there ,then it will be evident that for about 150 years ,this offence was prosecuted under the Section 3 of the Vagrancy(Ireland)Act 1847 which was amended in the year 1939 by Public Assistance Act.But this was not the end,as we progressively moved towards the concept of emerging a welfare state,subsequently the laws also changed and the constitutional validity of the above stated Act was challenged and it was as a result it was struck down and in 2008 a new Act,named Criminal Justice(Public Order) Act 2011 was approved by Government and drafting was done.
Section 1(2) of this Act defines that A person has committed no offence if he/she request or solicits money from others,or when in a private place he/she does so even without the consent of the owner or the occupier of such a place and asks for money,such person has committed no offence.
Howsover,there are some exception to this general rule.There are namely 2 exceptions ,one being if the person begging harrases,threatens.assaults or intimidates other person/group of persons and another exception is that if the person begging obstructs the passage of persons or vehicles.In such cases,a person shall be considered of committed an offence and shall be liable to pay the fine upto €500 and an imprisonment not exceeding 1 month or both.
As the time passes,laws also change.So,the new updated law known as Fines Act,2016 has included a provision which talks of the payment of fines in instalments and also clarifies that if no option is left then only imprisonment will be given.
Powers are given to the authorities under Section 3 of Criminal Justice(Public Order) Act 2011 to give directions to the beggars who are begging near ATMs,entrances of the business premises,to leave the area peacefully and stop such activity.
SITUATION WITH RESPECT TO SWEDEN:
As with the concept of”police state” being waived,all the countries has evolved with the concept of “Welfare state”.Sweden being one of the welfare states hasimposed a ban on begging.Even such country has appointed a national begging coordinator whose role is only to keep a check on such begging activities going on in the country.As,Sweden has observed a high increase in the poor migrants.
The earlier position of Sweden involved no begging.The people who were incapable of living the live and earn their living were taken care of through various social welfare programs.However,if the present position is contrasted with that of earlier one,then it can be seen that there has been a no. of cities within Sweden where a large no. of people beg on the streets.
The coordinator of begging has claimed that to ban begging absolutely in the country and achieve the objective of “No begging” status ,either the person who is begging or the person who is giving money to beggars,will be criminalised.This is a challenge for Sweden as developing “Sweden Social Model” is not a cup of tea.
SITUATION WITH RESPECT TO NETHERLAND:
Can you imagine a law for begging based on distance and time?Yes,in Netherlands the beggars are allowed to beg only for 30 minutes and they will sit approximately 3 metres away from the building and this will be enforced and monitored by Municipal Agents.
SITUATION WITH RESPECT TO NORWAY:
Norway has somewhat acquired a mixed position.There the municipal ban was there which restri cted people to sleep outside with ultimate purpose avoiding “homeless migrants”.However,with much progress in the society,a bill for national ban was triggered.But as a matter of disappointment it was subsequently withdrawn.However,there the NGOs has taken responsibility for public funding for basic services and shelters.
CONSEQUENCES OF BEGGING:
Begging is a social problem along with the psychological consequenses.Apart from the psychological consequenses there are other impacts as well which are rooted from Begging.Begging gives birth to “inferiority complex”.Although begging has become the means of survival for most of the people in the society, still its impacts are such which leaves unforgettable imprints in one’s mind.As we know to every action there is an equal an opposite reaction,same hold true here also.The other people which are not involved in begging shows rude and harsh behaviour towards the beggars.Its impact is not the “emotional degradation of an individual”.There are numerous reasons as to why one gets involved in this.Some reasons can be abject poverty,being poor,death of the parents,ignorance,addiction and so on.One of the severe impacts that it can have is that of “isolation”.Sexual abuse is also one of the impacts of begging.Female beggars are abused sexually on the streets since they have no place to live.Also,some of the female beggars are forced to get into sexual relation with the promise of money.The other impacts that can be counted upon is that beggars are subjected to “Accident Risks”.Since they live on streets ,most of the driving vehicles do rash driving which results ultimately in the death of the beggars.Most of the children who beg on the streets are kidnapped for the business of “organ harvesting”.So,these were some of the impacts which begging can have.
Since begging is a very alarming issue,there are some suggestions as to how one can contribute in curbing this social evil.Awareness must be created in the societies so that people may realise that with what severe impacts people are going through.The Government can also take the initiative of “generating jobs” for such people so that they can earn their basic living.The people who beg must be given support and the assurance of accommodation,so that they can quit being a beggar.Apart from that one can alone also contribute in curbing this problem by not giving money to the beggars. It might seem very heartless for one to not give money to the needy but this is the ultimate solution to prevent this problem.If no money will be given by anyone to the beggars then automatically this problem will no more be a problem.The chance must be given to the Government to upgrade the levels of such people in the society by making such policies and granting job opportunities that can help such people to raise there standards of living.
One can now calculate how harsh situation is there with beggars.Such a mental torture is now prevalent in our societies and one can observe that the no. of beggars are increasing day by day.Apart from viewing this problem of begging as a crime ,it must be seen with a view of somewhat related to a “social issue”.On one hand there are reasonable causes for some people whose circumstances are such that they are left with no other option than to beg but on the other hand,there are people as well who get into begging because the concept of begging for them is “Earning without any investment”.This is the only reason why the people are happy “to beg” with no self respect and dignity.They willing loose there self respect and dignity which is one of the most basic and essential human rights.With the increase in people involved in begging,the places have also expanded there ambit in terms of begging and that is the only reason why we see so much beggars outside when we go out.The impact of begging involves physical ,emotional,social distress on a person.Slowly,it is transforming into a trend in the society as begging is converting into a business now.These concerns are so important to think upon as it involves several lives of the people.It is high time now,so steps must be taken in order to curb this evil,only then the society in true terms will be said to be progressively developing with concept of “welfare”.Irrespective of what status does the country hold,as per the capacity ,the Government must contribute in one way or the another in order to tackle this issue.
Harkiran sehgal is a final year(V year) law student pursuing five year BBALLB Integrated course from Jamnalal Bajaj school of Legal Studies, Banasthali Vidyapith and holds an internship experience at NGO, Human Rights Commission, District Courts, law firms and international inter-governmental treaty based organization with 121 prospective Member countries lying between the Tropics having its Headquarters in India, registered under Article 102 of Charter of United Nations and jointly promoted by Government of India and France. As a student,she has written various articles in her law school on topics such as “Critical study of POCSO Act, 2012, with relation to the Protection of children from sexual offences Amendment Bill, 2019” and “Unpacking Insanity Defense Standards: Misuse and contrasting it with the current scenario”.She has acquired competencies in preparing and vetting legal drafts and is a voracious reader of legal literature with wide range of legal rules,regulations and Acts.She can be reached at: email@example.com